Deschutes River Salmonfly Hatch Report
Greetings from Maupin, Oregon and the Lower Deschutes River. The salmonfly and golden stonefly hatch is still on from Warm Springs down stream to the Maupin area. Here is a report from our recent guided trips...
Maupin area: While the hatch is past its peak near Maupin, there are still plenty of bugs (as of last night) and trout are still keying in. The less frequently fished spots still have trout feeding on the big bugs, while the beaten path finds highly educated trout that are now looking for caddis and mayflies. Last night we did find a few trout that were clearly feeding on caddis rather than stones so tying a size 14 EC caddis or X caddis off the back of a stonefly pattern is a good idea. Yellow sallies are also out in numbers and can be just the ticket when trout begin to lose interest in the big stones. During the inclement weather over the past two weeks there have been some incredible mayfly hatches, most notably pale evening duns, pale morning duns, and the occasional flurry of green drakes. Sight fishing with mayfly patterns is a pleasant change of pace from slapping down size 8 stoneflies. The caddis flies seem unseasonably early this year, with black clouds of them swarming over trees and bushes on still warm evenings. Don't wait until July for hot caddis action this year. I have seen some incredible trout around Maupin this season! As large as anything you would expect near Trout Creek.
Warm Springs to Trout Creek: Often we have anglers staying in Bend or Sunriver, so I meet them half way and float the ten miles between Warm Springs and Trout Creek. I absolutely love this fertile stretch of river just below Pelton Dam. The stonefly hatch happens a little later in this section than the Maupin area, and consequently continues later. I floated this stretch on Sunday and had great success on the big dry flies. There were a lot of people out fishing as it was Memorial Day weekend, but my fishing program worked just fine and we had lots of productive water to ourselves. There was one spot during the day where the salmonflies were crawling all over us. Not uncommon during the hatch, but I am talking six or eight at a time! there was some very slow flat water with a big overhanging alder tree where the bugs were dripping off the branches like honey. Not one single bug that fell in survived! The redsides were swimming under the tree like sharks. We took advantage with a fly I developed for that type of situation... a low riding wing flapping pattern tied on a size 10 barbless hook. The Warm Springs area will continue to fish well with salmonflies and golden stones for a while yet.
Trout Creek to Maupin: This 35 mile stretch of river offers the best trout fishing on the Deschutes. As far as hatches go it starts out similar to the Warm Springs area with heavy numbers of stoneflies on the banks. As you float down river towards Maupin there is a transition to smaller bugs. You can certainly fish stones the whole way if you like, but having a selection of caddis and mayflies is a great idea. The fishing through this section is significantly easier than anywhere anglers can access in one day. Rather than bow casting underneath trees and using jungle warfare tactics, here we can park on an island and cross to a small side channel and find large willing trout with plenty of room to cast. Or we can park the boat next to a large flat rock to stand on and easily cast behind a tree or next to a grass clump and find full size redsides that are less educated. That is the beauty of floating Trout Creek to Maupin. In a perfect world this is where all of our guided trips would be.
A note about stonefly patterns... There are times when a wing flapping salmonfly gets the most attention. Other times the trout key into smaller golden stones that are lifelessly drifting along. Sometimes they want them drowned, especially late in the hatch when the bugs start to die. Some water is calm and flat so you want a low riding sparsely tied pattern. Other spots are choppy and turbulent and you need a pattern that floats high and doesn't easily sink. A variety of patterns are available to match each stage of the hatch and each type of water you might encounter. My go to commercially available flies are the chubby chernobyl (original golden stone color, size 8), true stone (golden, size 8), Norm Woods special (size 8), and Clark's stone (size 8). It is good to have alternatives when every fisher on the river is using one pattern. Another fly that you want to have for that situation when the trout want nothing more that a fat female salmonfly, Kenny Moorish's still stone can be irresistible. I have done some extensive testing with this pattern this season. While it isn't a go to searching pattern for me it absolutely crushes when the trout are clearly taking the big mammas.
Here are a few photos from recent trips...
Thanks for reading,